Lit Youngstown Presents: Jamie Marich and Johanna Slivinske

By Amanda Lehnerd

Lit Youngstown presents Jamie Marich and Johanna Slivinske as featured readers for September’s first Wednesday Reading at Suzie’s Dogs & Drafts Sept. 6.

In February 2015, Lit Youngstown started the monthly first Wednesday reading series with The Fallen City writers and their anthology. Karen Schubert, Lit Youngstown co-director, said that this was a great place to start.

“Fallen City is a writers’ group that has met in Youngstown for decades. It was a terrific reading and a great beginning,” Schubert said. “I just completed booking the 2017 readers, and it’s going incredible, as I’ve felt each of the readings has been.”

Schubert was pleased when Marich, dancer, musician, performer, writer, clinical counselor and registered expressive arts therapist, reached out to her about her new book “Dancing Mindfulness,” and she wanted to find a good match for a reading with Marich.

“I love it when writers find us,” Schubert said. “I was looking for a good pairing for Marich, and I met Johanna when I was teaching at YSU. She told me about her book, which speaks to using storytelling as therapy with adolescents.”

According to Schubert, Marich and Slivinske are atypical features, in that they are primarily scholars and practitioners who wrote books about their work. She said most of Lit Youngstown’s readers identify primarily as writers.

Marich’s book “Dancing Mindfulness” invokes the art of dance as a primary method for discovering and practicing mindful awareness.  The book was inspired by the transformations people go through in life.

“You can have a huge transformation in your life that occurs over a series of months or years, or you can have a small transformation that happens within an hour,” Marich said. “You don’t have to tackle the whole thing at once, and I hope that some of that gentle encouragement comes out in the pages of the book.”

Slivinske, author, therapist and adjunct instructor at Youngstown State University, read excerpts from the books that she co–authored: “Therapeutic Storytelling for Adolescents and Young Adults” published by Oxford University and “Storytelling and Other Activities for Children in Therapy” published by John Wiley and Sons.

Slivinske explains the children and teens she had counseled in the past have inspired the books she co–authored.

“Children and teens that I had counseled in the past were part of my inspiration for combining narrative, the creative arts and therapy in our books,” Slivinske said. “I found that through storytelling and the use of the creative arts, many children and teens felt more comfortable when discussing sensitive or difficult issues.”

The event also included an open mic portion, where about 10 people signed up to read pieces of their writing. Deb Cunningham, community organizer and part-time English faculty at YSU, emceed the open mic portion of the reading.

Marich’s and Slivinske’s books were available for purchase at the event, and people who attended had the chance to meet and talk with the authors.